“You would have come a week ago, I wouldn't have been so welcoming.
Lionel Gosseaume, behind his good nature, hides barely cauterized scars.
It is raw, like its Sauvignon and Gamay vines, which have been subjected to repeated frost for a week.
Burnt bales of straw and candles constitute the only visible traces of the struggle, for several days now, against an insidious enemy who strikes early in the morning.
Every morning, well before sunrise, it is the same anguish that seizes Lionel and all his colleagues in the appellations of the Loire Valley, when the cold sets in.
After the end of March when the thermometer was believed for a few days in summer, here is the hard return of April, a delicate period when the vine comes out of its wintering season and remains exposed to climatic hazards.
Burgundy: thousands of fires to protect the vines from the cold
“Let's be clear, there has always been frost and the vines have always suffered from it, admits Lionel Gosseaume, who consults between seven and ten weather sites every morning.
But this time around, it is an exceptional situation over time.
No one among the elders remembers such a long freeze.
For ten days, in places, his colleagues from the Loire wine industry, which he has chaired since December, have been fighting with their sometimes insufficient means in the face of the onslaught of the elements.
“Our friends from Nantes have sent me photos.
There were stalactites in the vines on the wire ", laments the president of Interloire.
70% of frozen buds
In the rows of its plots, our host can only note the extent of the irreversible damage caused to the budding buds by the negative temperatures.
“That’s dead,” he points out.
It is as if the latter had been stopped dead in their growth.
"Be careful, we must speak of the percentage of roasted buds and not of the future harvest, which will only occur later," indicates the producer.
I estimate this rate at 70% here in the Touraine appellation.
According to the first lifts, the Muscadet du Pays Nantais would have suffered the same fate.
As for the Chinon-Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil sector, the damage would be less, by 20 to 30%.
Provisional figures, to be taken with caution.
Lionel Gosseaume's depression, recently crowned with the gold medal for the best sauvignon in France, is all the greater in that in 2019, after already two previous episodes of frost, the latter had equipped himself with two towers to 40,000 euros each, supposed to spare him the pangs of cold bites.
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Frost: vines, cherry trees and apple trees devastated ... the heavy toll of Vaucluse
Pylons 12 m high, equipped with two blades and powered by a heat engine.
This system fights against radiative freezing, that is to say caused by the evaporation of heat from the ground.
The pale again plaster these sheets of heat to the ground.
But on the fateful night, Mother Nature thwarted the technology and the colossal investments made by the winegrower.
“We had a 0.2 mm micro-shower, which my weather stations did not even detect.
The moisture could not be removed in time by the blades and the frost came to fix on the buds.
400,000 euros in damage
The bites of the cold are such and return on such regular dates that they force us to wonder about the future.
“A colleague in Cour-Cheverny, installed since 1991, is in his thirteenth episode of frost in 30 years.
One in three years.
It has integrated this parameter into its operations.
Now, the time has come to assess the damage, which the producer of the cuvées baptized Climate - this is no joke - figures at 400,000 euros for the 2021 vintage. To cover the calamity, Lionel will be able to count on the insurance contract taken out as soon as it was installed in 2007. A lesser evil since half of the losses should be covered.
Not all of its wine-growing neighbors will have this chance, since in the appellation, only a third of wine-growers are covered.
The producer then resumed his hat as President of Interloire: “I do not understand that we do not make sure but it is a reality.
I never conceived of my contract as an investment, but rather as a way to avoid going out of business.
The period will be difficult, including for the insured.
According to him, the benefit-cost risk argues widely in favor of insurance, but the particular period requires us to consider the future differently.
“In addition to financing equipment against freezing, better management of stocks would allow these phenomena to be better absorbed.
But fortunately in our misfortune, we can count on an exceptional 2020 vintage which, because of the Covid, has not been sold.
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